Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back Away From the Ledge!

We're all going to face it at one point or another and as big as we talk about how thick our skin is or how we can handle it--the truth is that rejection hurts. We may be able to swallow the bad news right off the bat but then again we might find ourselves gazing wistfully at that ledge. Maybe a nice bridge....

Don't do it!

Instead, consider this: Most agents receive 30,000+ queries a year from writer's who are dying to be published. At most, a tenth of those actually receive requests for partials or fulls which means we're looking at a very small percentage of writers whose dreams aren't crushed during the first round. Chances are if you received some form of rejection letter, it doesn't necessarily mean you suck or that you'll never be published. It's true when they say agents really have to LOVE your story.

Does that help the pain a little? No, probably not, but it does make us feel just a teensy bit better that we aren't alone in that rejection club.

So what does it mean when you open that letter from that agent only to have your heart broken? Is there a way to read between the lines?

Honestly--unless there is a personal note somewhere on the rejection form...Nope. But after doing some research, I found these helpful tips:

  • Standard Rejection Form:  Here is where we automatically assume we suck. No writing, no tips, zilch. Now isn't that something to freak out over? Don't. Remember those 30,000+ queries a year? many would you be able to personalize? Maybe you just need to hone your skills a bit more?
  • Rejection With Advice:  Okay, so they didn't like it but at least they gave you a reason for it instead of letting your imagination run wild while you teeter dangerously on that balcony. (Or was it a bridge?)
  • Rejection With A Personal Note:  So they liked it enough to write with their own pen--eh, so to speak. Still a no but this time the agent took the time (and they don't often have a lot) to give you some encouraging words. Perhaps it's a: "Not for me but hope to see something else of yours in the future." Which means they want to be subjected to the wicked way with words you have. Yay! Or a "Liked it but not sure if people will buy it." So you got a good story, unfortunately so does every other Tom, Dick and Harry. Dern.
And then finally--the golden ticket of rejection letters!

  • Needs Revision but Please Submit Again:  Sure it needs work but they're willing to wait for you to make the suggested changes to make a final decision. Which means you got a second chance to win them over!
Even the greats have seen their fair of rejection. JK Rowling's beloved Harry Potter was rejected more than ten times before finally making it into print. Stephen King's Carrie was rejected more than 20 times.

Can you imagine if they'd given up? Thrown in the towel and went on to do other things with their lives? I'm feeling dizzy just thinking about it. They didn't give up and neither should you. Keep at it and hang in there when rejection comes a-calling. Keep in mind that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. And while it might hurt your ego, a lot, it's not the end of the world or your writing career unless you allow it to be.

I hope this has lifted your spirits and given you something to think about. Until next time...

Happy Writing!


  1. Always always keep your head up. I know how disappointing it can be but it's like that quote I love goes--You can't discourage the real writers They'll keep writing no matter what ppl say--or something like that :D

  2. This is really uplifting. It's so easy to get discouraged. Publishing is a hard world to get into sometimes--especially if you wanna get in with a reputable company/agent. That's a lot of queries for them to handl! I have yet to submit my query but I know there is going to be some heartache once I get there. It's good to know that I won't be alone. Hell, if King and Rowling can do it..

  3. Carrie was rejected that many times?! Whoa!
    Good to know even the big shots got to taste rejection. Sorta levels the playing field.

  4. This was great, Ree. And so true. Rejections can come for so many reasons and not all of them have to do with your story. It can also be the wrong time, because someone is coming out with something too similar, or the wrong time of year for the story.

    Excellent blog, as always.




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